Sunday, 27 February 2011

Pig Hunt (2008).

When John (Travis Aaron Wade) takes a bunch of his mates, and his girlfriend (Tina Hunag), to an area that was once owned by his dead uncle the weekend looks like being a typical hunting trip/drunken lark. That all changes thanks to friction with some of the locals and the rumoured presence of a legendarily large boar. The fact that almost everyone has a weapon could end up being just as much of a hindrance as an advantage.
Pig Hunt is staggeringly average on almost every level and it’s also so derivative that it often drags throughout it’s 99 minute (approx) runtime. There’s a bit of Deliverance here, a bit of Razorback there and many other films referenced or alluded to in between.
The acting is okay, with the leads barely getting by but a definite highlight being Jason Foster’s presence as one of the local hillbilly boys, but the direction by James Isaac is fairly lifeless and the script (from Zack Anderson and Robert Mailer Anderson) is just a concoction of sleep-inducing bickering and chatter and some ineffectual attempts to build atmosphere and suspense.
Having failed in these areas, and with no stylish visuals to keep the viewer engaged, it’s up to the big boar itself to win audiences over and the movie at least claws back some ground in this department. Saving it’s monster for a big finale, director Isaac admittedly does well by the big beastie. The effects are really good and a mixture of tight camera shots, editing and great sound work really makes the beast come alive as it comes onscreen to kill or be killed.
Essentially, Pig Hunt tries to mix some subgenres into something fresh and interesting but it instead just ends up being a bit of a plodding mess with moments that only serve to remind you of the better movies deserving of your attention. 5/10.


Saturday, 26 February 2011

Dogs (1976).

The puns can begin straight away with this one. A complete dog of a movie. We're gonna need a bigger bone. Things get a bit . . . . . . ruff.
I’ll try to control myself now, I apologise but this is the kind of movie that leaves you to make up your own fun while the plot plays out predictably and with a serious lack of any excitement.
It’s all about a sudden spate of attacks by dogs, hence the title. Something (could it be whatever’s being done in that damn lab?) has turned them into vicious killers. Even the ones that look like cuddly Labradors being prodded into action by some offscreen dog wrangler. It’s up to David McCallum to provide the star power and possible solution, George Wyner is the other big brain who believes him when nobody else does and Linda Gray . . . . . . . . . . takes off her glasses and puts them on again in some kind of strange, and strangely alluring, seductive tic.
Dogs is just one of those movies, so prevalent in the 70s, about animals that turn into killers but it could have been a very good one. Instead, it wastes it’s premise by failing to cover up the budgetary shortcomings, throwing in one too many scenes clearly meant to instil terror that clearly instil mild amusement instead and not throwing in lots and lots of gore to compensate for whatever else it’s missing.
McCallum is okay in the lead role but he’s stuck playing the kind of clichĂ©d, dull hero that we’ve seen far too many times in the genre. A maverick, a guy who can stumble onto something major but not get the back-up to find a solution in time to save the lives of the locals around him, he may as well have “rugged, moody, intelligent hero” tattooed on his forehead.
As for the dogs themselves, they don’t really get a chance to shine despite having the title of the movie. There are occasional moments of tension and violence but our canine killers spend most of the time looking like they’d much rather be fetching sticks or chasing rubber balls. Many of the dogs look the part, and are much scarier than (for example) the large rabbits in Night Of The Lepus, but just as many look like they couldn’t bite their way out of Paris Hilton’s handbag.

I actually enjoyed this more than The Breed, a killer dog movie released 30 years after this one, but that’s because there was more that was obviously laughable and it didn’t have Michelle Rodriguez in it. Other viewers may be more discerning and decide to avoid the film completely but fans of the genre, and all it can offer, can at least mine SOME entertainment value from this film. But there are many preferable options.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Cradle Of Fear (2001).

A modern spin on the kind of anthology movies that Amicus used to churn out years ago (there's even that old staple tale of the "haunted limb"), Cradle Of Fear puts a modern, goth coat of paint on things and throws in some more gore and nudity but it's quite a traditional piece of work at it's black heart.

The title of the movie is only a few letters removed from the band Cradle Of Filth and it’s their leading man, Dani Filth, who takes the role of the evil figure linking all of the four stories (although more is quickly revealed concerning an evil hypnotist/sadistic killer who seems to be getting revenge on those who helped to get him incarcerated).

The first story is all about a sexy clubber (Emily Booth) who meets up with a mysterious stranger and goes back to his for a night of passion. Things soon turn a bit dark and scary and the next day is one full of freaky imagery and a sense of foreboding as she worries about what has been done to her.
The second story concerns two young women robbing an old men and how that goes horribly wrong.
The third is the “haunted limb” tale already mentioned above. It features a man who wants to regain a full left leg and the woman in his life, played by Eileen Daly, who just wants him to be happy.
And last, but by no means least, we have a tale of internet horror with a young man who stumbles upon, and becomes obsessed by, a site known as The Sick Room. The site allows users to decide just how, where and how violently random victims are attacked while the camera keeps rolling.
Framing things, we have that deadly stranger (Filth) and the story of the cop (Edmund Dehn) determined to put a stop to the evil murderer/hypnotist known as Kemper (David McEwen).

Alex Chandon directs, from his own writing, and while the movie is far from perfect it actually turns into something very good after it’s shaky start. This is helped by the building of tension in the surrounding storyline and the lead-up to the best story of the four featured. It’s also helped by the fact that the movie tends to pace things just right and throws in some violence and/or nudity often enough to keep things constantly entertaining during the two hour runtime. Shallow I may be but the fact that I have a crush on Eileen Daly vastly improved the tale that featured . . . . . . . Eileen Daly and the first story having Emily Booth in it (the UK horror hostess who would make my “Top 5 women I could get a free pass with” list and I’d even get it laminated . . . . if only my fiancĂ© didn’t mind) made the whole thing worthwhile anyway. Both of these lovely ladies being nekkid may seem a bonus for some, I’m far too professional to dwell on such a feat of cinematic greatness.

I digress. The gore on display ranges from the laughably inept to the impressively nasty and the fact that there’s just so damn much of it helps to build an impression of a movie that can just manage to become more than a sum of it’s parts. There’s a loud, heavy metal (for the most part) soundtrack, the acting isn’t the best in the world but most people do enough to get by and the twisted stories may be a touch predictable but I couldn’t help enjoying Cradle Of Fear for the entertainingly nasty work it was. In fact, I enjoyed it quite a lot.


Saturday, 12 February 2011

Resonance - 5

  It was over two hours later when Steve finally stopped moving long enough to actually take in his surroundings. He found that he was outside The Antiquary, a cosy basement bar in the Stockbridge area of town.
  He decided that he deserved a pint.
  Walking into the bar provided Steve with a palpable sense of relief, thanks to a combination of the location and the crowd drinking inside that allowed him the comfort of tenuous company and anonymity.
  'Pint of Tennents,' he said, placing his money on the bar as the barman started pouring.
  When his drink was placed in front of him, Steve finally allowed himself to take a seat. He, rather predictably, placed himself in a corner booth.
  'GodDAMMIT,' he said, once again flicking his fringe back. Every time a stray, black hair invaded his eyeline it seemed to represent any number of sudden, potential threats.
  His mind was whirling with a multitude of different, confusing thoughts. He'd known Max for three years. Three whole fucking years and it had come to this. Steve had even begun to think that they had become friends over and above their daily working relationship. Obviously not. In his experience, friends didn't usually try to shoot each other.
  And just how the hell did he get himself into all this mess? He was nothing more than a freelance computer programmer, professionally, and a guitarist in his spare time. A combination that, unlikely as it may seem, had drawn Max into his life.
  As many other people have previously said about much less auspicious moments, he could remember it like it was yesterday.
  The polite knock sounded at his office door and the man poked his head round once he'd pushed it open by only a few inches.
  'Excuse me,' he said, 'is Steven Robertson around?'
  'He sure is. You're speaking to him.'
  The door still did not fully open. 'Ah, great. Do you mind if I come in or are you busy working on something right now?'
  'Nothing major,' said Steve. 'Come in.'
  And so Max finally entered the office and, properly, Steve's life.
  'Thanks,' he said, his dark eyes darting all around the small, rather nondescript, office. Steve was sitting in his ergonomically designed chair in front of his top-of-the-range computer. Beside his computer desk were a pair of filing cabinets and, on the opposite side, a wastepaper basket. The only concession to Steve's actual personality was a pair of posters in the magnolia walls, one of Led Zeppelin and one of Jimi Hendrix.
  Steve estimated that Max was in his mid to late thirties despite the prematurely grey head of hair. He was dressed in jeans and a polo shirt although Steve also noticed that his shoes looked reassuringly expensive.
  'Shoes maketh the man,' Steve's dad used to tell him. 'A man in comfortable, quality shoes is ready for anything; work, a walk, a fight, a night out.'
  'That's just stupid,' Steve had said.
  'Oh really?' His dad arched an eyebrow. 'Have you ever spent time with a man crippled by his shoes? No bloody use to anybody. And how can you trust a man who can't even look after his own feet and how . . . .'
  'Okay, okay dad.' Steve had raised his hands up. 'I get it.'
  So, from that day on, whether he completely agreed with his dad or not he had always made a habit of checking out people's footwear.
  'Did you hear me?' the man asked.
  Steve snapped his head up to look the man in the eye.
  'Sorry,' he said, 'zoned out there for a minute. It's a bad habit from being used to such a solitary working environment.'
  'Oh,' said the man, 'okay. And have you zoned back in now?' He gave a smile to show that he wasn't offended.
  'Yes, yes, yes I have. Very sorry. Now, what were you saying?'
  'I was saying that I had need of your services.'
  'Great.' Steve clapped his hands together. 'What can I do for you then? A web page? Site upgrade? Interconnected site-related advertising? I can do all of those things and much more.'
  'It's none of those things. My request is . . . . . a little bit out of the ordinary.'
  'Really? Well, now I'm intrigued.'
  'I kind of hoped you would be. If you don't mind, I'd like to give you a bit of background before I make my proposition.'
  'I don't mind at all.' Steve rolled his chair aside, revealing a stool that he grabbed with one hand and swung over to the man opposite him.
  'Thanks.' The man perched himself on the stool, feeling a numbness set in almost immediately after making contact with the bare, wooden seat.
  'You could start with your name, by the way.' Steve laughed.
  'Oh, sorry. Max. My name is Max Calder.'
  'Max,' Steve extended a hand, 'pleased to meet you.'
  'Likewise,' said Max as he stood to shake the proferred hand before returning to numbing his backside.
  'I'm all ears,' said Steve.
  'Right. Well . . . . ummmm.' Max rolled his eyes as he considered the best way to put forward his proposition. 'Well, let me start by saying, and I don't want this to sound TOO ominous, that I work for an agency attached to a branch of the government yet virtually unknown to ninety nine percent of the British public.'
  'Well, I am flattered.' Steve laughed.
  'Of course, if you repeat this conversation to anyone then I'll have to kill you.' Max's face was blank, impassive, a concrete wall with no flaws.
  Silence filled the room like a cloying gas as Steve's laugh died, then as his smile faded, even more so when he could think of no response.
  Then Max had burst out laughing. 'Gotcha.'

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Tony (2009)

Written and directed by Gerard Johnson, and featuring an absolutely fantastic central turn from Peter Ferdinando, Tony is a disturbing, nasty, darkly comic movie.

Tony is the kind of guy that you can see on a busy high street any weekend in most big cities. A quiet, easy to ignore, man who people rarely take notice of. In fact, nobody would ever realise if the man disappeared. Which explains why he can be such an effective serial killer. But when a local child goes missing from the estate some people finally begin to notice Tony. People that he doesn't really want noticing him.

There's not a lot to cover in a review of this film. Nothing is given an extra flourish and there isn't anything to overwhelm you while you're somehow gripped from beginning to end so why does the movie rate so highly? Playing out like a UK version of Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer (and I am fully aware of how lazy that comparison is, I apologise, but it's still a fair one) with a dollop of humour, Tony is just a little film constantly punching above it's weight and succeeding.

The performances are all pitch perfect. Ferdinando is so good in the central role that I immediately want to see him in future projects worthy of his skills. Elsewhere, we don't really get any well-known names or faces (besides Ricky Grover) but everyone convinces as whoever they are on screen. Absolutely.

The script is pretty good and direction is solid but this movie is sold, and does so well, on the strength of it's performances. Well done to Gerard Johnson for making so many great, early decisions that the film feels as if people just had to turn up and point the camera. Well worth your time though impatient viewers may dislike the slow start.


Friday, 4 February 2011

Resonance - 4

  Max fished out the teabag and flicked it into the bin, where it landed with a fleshy splat.
  Metaphorical and now portentous? He smirked as he drank his tea.
  Steve came into the kitchen after less than his stated ten minutes, just in time to see Max drinking the last few drops from his cup.
  'All done?' Max asked.
  'Yep,' said Steve, 'what should I do with the disc?'
  Max held out his hand over the kitchen table. 'I'll take it.'
  Steve slumped into the chair opposite him and shook his head as he handed the disc over. Max placed it in his inside jacket pocket, wedged just behind his mobile phone.
  'What now?' asked Steve. 'What about the rest?'
  'The Studio? The whole place? I'm thinking of a torch job.'
  'Won't that just attract suspicion?'
  Max exhaled loudly and shrugged. 'Maybe, but that's what HE wants me to do. Make sure there are no loose ends.'
  'Hmmm, a house fire to destroy one soundproofed room or buying a few actual instruments and just telling people that you were in a band. I know which option I would go for.'
  'Me too,' said Max, 'but he was very clear. I have to get rid of everything.' He placed particular emphasis on the last word.
  'Everything?' Steve looked straight into the eyes of a man that he now realised had been ordered to kill him.
  'Yes,' sighed Max, reaching one hand behind his back, 'everything.'
  Before he even considered what he was doing, Steve jumped up from his seat and pushed the table against Max with all of his might, drawing from reservoirs of strength that he never even knew were within him. Max, having only half risen from his sitting position, found himself wedged tightly between the table and a counter behind him, the force against him stopping him from falling down yet also stopping him from getting into an upright position. He tried to fully withdraw the gun but the counter bit into his arm, tearing at the skin util the weapon fell to his feet.
  Steve looked down at the dropped gun, his eyes wide but his strength undiminished.
  'And that's that?' he shouted. 'You were just going to shoot me? After what we've done together?'
  Max struggled with his speech as the table cut into his chest. 'You helped make MY weapon to deliver to SOMEONE ELSE! I have my orders, Steve.'
  'Your orders,' Steve screamed, the veins on his arms bulging as he maintained crucial pressure, 'screw your orders. What if I just disappear? What if I trust you to still let me have a cut of the money and then leave the country?'
  'They'll know,' Max gasped.
  'They'll have a burnt down house. You could get some body to make into a charred corpse and they wouldn't know shit.'
  'They will.' Max stopped straining against the table, it was useless and he was trapped. To be honest, Steve had both surprised and impressed him with this move.
  Steve wanted to argue back but knew that Max was totally right. 'Can't you just let me go?' he asked instead.
  'You know I can't do that.'
  'Right now I don't see you having much of a say in the matter.'
  'He'll want me to hunt you down.'
  'You might not find me though,' said Steve.
  'I think I will. Or, worse still, he'll get others to hunt you down too.'
  'Then I'll keep running.'
  'It won't do you any good.' Max shrugged, realising that the pressure against him had been ever so slightly relieved.
  'Oh well, plan b it is then.'
  'And what's that?' Max asked.
  'The best defence is a good offence.' Steve rammed the table forward, winding Max, waved something at him and then ran as fast as he could away from his potential killer.
  Max groaned as he slowly pushed the table back with his bruised chest. It wasn't just a groan of pain. Steve had waved a disc at him. He'd made two fucking copies of their work.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

What next?

What happens to all those shared dreams
When the one you love lets their half go?
Do they hang around near your head and your heart
While you walk to a future that you don't know?

What happens to all that love that you felt
With every single fibre of your being?
Does it stay there and congest your system
To remind you of memories you're now fleeing?

What happens when you lose your soul mate?
Does it result in you losing your soul?
Or do you walk around with half of it left
Until someone else makes you whole?

What happens when the girl of your dreams
Stamps all over your damaged heart?
Is there ever any way to fix it again
Once it's so thoroughly wrenched apart?

Can you ever manage to find another
When you think you have lost The One
Or are we like Icarus losing his wings
After flying too close to the sun?

How do you fix your whole universe
When the centre becomes a black hole?
How can any replacement parts
Do as well as the pieces she stole?

Love sucks but I love it.
The pain fades but scars stay with you.
If time heals all wounds
Then why don't I feel better when I wind my clock forward?
No matter what happens next
Nothing will ever be as good
And what is the point of blame?
It never helps.
did this!

Resonance - 3

  Fifteen minutes, and one taxi ride, later Max slotted his key into the front door of a lab that looked inconspicuously like every other house on Buchanan Street. That's because, for the most part, it was just like every other house on the street. The only real differences inside were the small recording studio that he and Steve had created and the ridiculously complicated network of computers that Max could never make head nor tail of. It was a mess of wiring, monitors and things that beeped and as long as Steve kept them all working as they should then everything was just fine.
  'Steve?' Max called out as he closed the heavy front door behind him.
  A door opened at the other end of the hallway and Steve appeared, smiling and looking like a small boy eager to embrace a long-absent parent. 'Hey,' he said.
  'Hey,' Max nodded, 'I need your help. We need to make one back-up of all your work and then we need to destroy everything.'
  'What? Why? WHAT?'
  'You heard me,' growled Max.
  'Well, yeah, but . . . . . . well, I've been waiting here to find out how everything REALLy went. How did you feel when it happened? How messy WAS it?'
  'Steve, I've been given orders. We need to do this and we need to do this right now. Everything else will have to wait.'
  Steve stood with a sulky expression on his face.
  'Understand?' snapped Max.
  'Okay, okay. I'll start by backing everything up onto disc. Well, everything ESSENTIAL anyway.'
  'Thanks,' said Max. He stood there in the hallway while Steve stood in front of him.
  The moment of inactivity lengthened.
  'Well?' Max nodded towards the PC-stuffed living room.
  'Oh.' Steve turned on his heels. 'Sure, sure. It will probably take me about half an hour.'
  'Half an hour?'
  'Yeah.' Steve turned around in the doorway and shrugged. 'It's not like in the movies, Max. I need to make sure I have all of the stuff we need before blitzing the rest and making the disc.'
  'Oh.' Max nodded again. 'Oh, okay. Yeah, sure. I think I'll go and make myself a cuppa while you're working on that and then we'll figure out the best way to get rid of everything else.'
  'Sure,' said Steve before disappearing into the living room.
  And that was that. Max headed to the kitchen and made himself a cup of tea while he listened to Steve tapping keys and occasionally cursing whatever computer he was working on.
  While drinking his tea, Max also fingered the tiny metal disc he had removed from one jacket pocket. Only a 5mm diameter piece of metal and yet it was one of the most dangerous objects that he had ever handled.
  The receptor. Was that what he needed right now? Was that the best thing to use on Steve? Max thought hard about it, it would make things so much easier. Well, easier for everyone except Steve. From what he had seen earlier, the weapon they had created certainly didn't provide a peaceful and painless way to go. Just because Steve had to go didn't mean that he had to go like that, no matter how appropriate it may seem. He deserved a lot better.
  He deserved . . . . .
  Max got up, opened one of the wall units and grabbed a box of breakfast cereal. Thrusting his hand inside, he grabbed the gun that was kept hidden there in case of emergencies. Placing the gun in his back pocket, and the cereal box back in the cupboard, he then sat back down and stared into his cup of tea. He'd left the bag in to brew and so a little stir started to darken the mixture.
  Stir. A darkening. Stir. Darker still.
  Shit, thought Max, now I'm looking at tea as a fucking metaphor? Screw that. Everything that needs done will be done.
  'Ten minutes,' Steve shouted, for no obvious reason, 'it's actually been easier than I thought.'
  'Good good,' Max called in reply. He ran his fingers along the gun grip that now stuck out of his back pocket. Good. Yeah, Steve definitely deserved the gun. Max was a pretty good shot and wouldn't screw up at short range anyway. But he would tell Steve first. That was only fair, too.

Resonance - 2

  Just across from the shopping centre, Max Hunter sat and slowly chewed his beefburger. He was sitting on a bright red, hard plastic chair in the middle of the fast-food restaurant where he'd just bought his dinner. Not the surrounding you might think suitable for someone who had just caused such a messy death. And Max HAD caused the death.
  He looked down at his phone as it lit up and began vibrating across the vinyl-clad tabletop.
  The display said "Steve".
  Max put the phone to his ear and pressed the button to receive the call.
  'Hello,' he said.
  'Max?' asked the voice at the other end of the line.
  Max rolled his eyes. 'Yes, Steve, it's me,' he said.
  'Is it done?'
  'Well? How did it go?'
  Max kept his voice low, despite not thinking that any of the patrons wolfing down their fast food around him would have any clue yet as to what had happened despite the noise of police sirens approaching. 'I think it's safe to say that our unplanned field test was an unmitigated success.'
  'Really?' said Steve. 'What was it like?'
  Max frowned. 'I really don't think that this is either the time or the place to be having this conversation.' He then smiled. 'Suffice to say, it was spectacularly messy.'
  Steve chuckled at the other end of the line.
  'And now I am going to finish my dinner.' Max pressed the "end call" option on his phone and laid it back down on his table.
  Spectacularly messy. He smirked at the words, a description that didn;t even begin to come close to what he had so recently witnessed. It was even different from the footage he had once seen in the news featuring a suicide bomber in the middle of some political gathering somewhere. Mind you, he should have expected that. After all, nobody had ever created an explosion in the way that he and Steve had. The things they could do. The money they could make. The influence they could gain. Max couldn't help thinking of that moment in "The Invisible Man" when Claude Raines described his plan: something about picking some important targets and then some lesser folk, just to show that nobody was safe. He liked that. Keep everyone on edge.
  Mind you, Max thought as he savoured another mouthful of his burger, that didn't turn out too well for Claude Raines.
  The phone began to vibrate across the table once again, this time showing nothing more than a question mark on the display screen.
  Max sighed before putting down the last piece of his burger and picked up the phone.
  'Hello,' he said.
  'Well done, Max,' said the voice at the other end of the line, 'very well done indeed.'
  'Thank you, sir. I would say that testing is now over and we can start creating some practical opportunities to maximise our potential.'
  'Not so fast, Max.'
  'I said not so fast. There are still a few loose ends that need tied up.'
  'Loose ends?'
  'Yes. For one thing, I need the data and research destroyed. In fact, I want you to keep one back-up disc, just ONE mind, and then destroy the whole lab.'
  Max almost choked on his own words before he blurted out, 'are you joking?'
  The voice at the other end of the line gained a hard edge to it. 'You have known me for quite some time now, Max. Is that fair to say?'
  'Yes sir.'
  'And in all that time have I ever made one joke?'
  'No sir,' replied Max, his shoulders slumping slightly.
  'Then, believe you me, I am not about to start doing so RIGHT FUCKING NOW!'
  Max moved the phone away from his ear as the volume increased. 'Yes sir, understood,' he said when he dared to place the phone close enough to his ear once more.
  'There's one more thing.'
  Max was confused. 'Steve? What about him?'
  'He needs to go.'
  'Go where?' Max asked. Then it dawned on him. 'Oh, you don't mean . . . . . . . . . . . . GO, do you?'
  'I'm afraid I do,' said the voice at the other end. At least Max thought he heard the tiniest hint of reget there. That was something but, of course, it may have just been an echo of his own feeling.
  'May I ask why, sir?'
  'I do not have to justify my actions to you, Max, you know that. Let's just say that Steve's part in our plan is all done. He worked well with you. In the lab. You have the brains, Max, but you're also a soldier; tough, determined, able to make the difficult decisions. Steve was merely a computer programmer with a very useful knowledge and interest in acoustics.'
  'But, to be fair, he did make it all happen.'
  'Max, stop seeing Steve as a work colleague and look at the bigger bloody picture here. Steve helped to develop a weapon, an AMAZING weapon, from YOUR initial idea. Our best chance of effectively using this weapon is if we manage to keep it a secret.'
  'No buts. Did you really see this panning out any other way? What did you think? That I, that my bosses, would let you two run around with this thing, causing mayhem and fear for your own amusement?'
  'Well....' but Max was not getting to speak.
  'There WILL be mayhem and fear but it will be when and where I tell you it needs to be. Christ, just look at what happened today.'
  Max managed to get out a full sentence this time. 'A very successfuk test-run,' he said.
  'In the middle of a crowded shopping centre,' came the loud reply, 'when it was supposed to be somewhere private. It was supposed to be done with some discretion.'
  'With respect, sir, although mistakes were made I do feel that the public display gave us all the feedback we were looking for. The result was what we wanted and nobody has any idea how it happened. The fact that you're talking to me right now shows how easy it all was.'
  'You think I don't know that? The outcome is the reason I haven't pulled the plug on this whole operation.'
  'Yes sir,' said Max. He now just wanted this conversation over. He looked down at his once tasty burger, now just a piece of cold, greying meat. 'Will there be anything else?'
  'Just one thing. Feedback is all well and good but sometimes you end up not liking what you hear. Bear that in mind.'
  There was a beep and the line went dead. Max placed his mobile phone in his inside jacket pocket and then began to pick absent-mindedly at his cold chips.
  He considered those words. Sometimes you end up not liking what you hear. Was that a threat? It must have been intended that way, surely. And Steve, poor Steve. Max did like the guy but orders were orders. His, for want of a better word, boss was right when he said that his part in the proceedings was over.
  Still a shame though, Max thought as he left the cold remnants of his dinner to head straight for the lab.

Resonance - 1

  When you're standing outside yet another shoe shop (the fifth one that Ian had been left standing outside that day) you don't really expect your day to be interrupted by chaos and death. Especially in a "mall".
  Ian had just given his standard smile and shrug to Lucy as she stood in the store, holding up a pair of black ankle boots for perusal. He thought he had the smile and shrug combo perfected by this stage. Just enough movement to show that he was taking an interest yet slight enough to imply that he really didn't have a clue about these things. Which, even after so many shopping trips, was very true. He didn't really want to have a clue either but that didn't mean that he loved Lucy any less for constantly dragging him around with her on their days off.
  It all started with a shadow, a shadow that appeared beside Ian's own hazy reflection in the window.
  Then the hand grabbed his wrist. A tight grip but one that was trembling furiously.
  Ian whirled around to see a middle-aged man, glasses, stubble, brown trenchcoat, decidedly average except for the look on his face. A mixture of intense pain and something else (maybe fear or panic) hovered around those tensed muscles and wide eyes.
  'Whoah, woah,' Ian said, making to remove the man's grip from his wrist.
  'H . . . . . he . . . . . . . help . . . . me,' he said in a hoarse whisper.
  Jesus, the guy's fingers were like handcuffs around Ian. Yet the trembling was getting more and more violent. His whole body was starting to shudder from head to toe. Was this a fit? How a stroke happened? Bizarrely, Ian spent a second realising that he had absolutely no idea about these things. Shoe shopping and strokes - his own pockets of ignorance combined in some bizarre afternoon catastrophe.
  'Hey, hey, are you okay?' Ian asked, realising how stupid those words sounded as soon as they left his lips but at least he had returned his full attention to the poor guy.
  'Help. Re . . . . . re . . . . . re . . . . .' The word remained unfinished, trapped by chattering teeth that looked set to bite off the man's tongue.
  Ian looked around in desperation. People either seemed not to notice or, more likely, had already noticed and were now doing their level best to act as if they hadn't. In the shoe shop, Lucy was concentrating om yet another important footwear comparison.
  'Damn, damn, DAMMIT!'
  'He . . . . . hel . . . . hel . . . '
  'I WILL help,' Ian growled, 'but you may need to give me my hand back first, pal.' Ian kept looking around the mall (shopping centre, he thought, shopping centre shopping centre shopping centre, why is the whole fucking country now trying to Americanise everything nowadays and why had that thought overtaken his mind right now) but couldn't even see one bloody security guard or cleaner to call on. This was not going to be his lucky day.
  The shaking was now so bad that it was starting to pump Ian's arm up and down. He looked at the suffereing sod clinging on to him and saw that he was now beyond speech. His face was almost a blur with the constant vibration rattling through the both of them. Ian was starting to feel an ache in the bones of his arm and could not begin to imagine what the man was feeling.
  When he finally looked back at the shop window, Lucy had noticed the bizarre predicament at last. She looked confused.
  'Help,' Ian mouthed, as clearly as he could.
  Dropping the numerous shoes she had been holding, she hurried to the door.
  Ian's skull was now starting to hurt, this was going to leave him with one almighty bastard of a headache. He visualised something creating a noise in his head like a cross between a dentist's drill and nails on a blackboard. Turning his head took a great effort but he once again faced the cause of his problem. There was blood now leaking from the man. It was coming from his nose, his ears and even at the corners of his eyes. What the hell?
  'Ian? Ian?' It was Lucy calling and Ian was just about to make a monumental effort to turn his head again and tell her to stay away when the man holding on to him died.
  It was only a second, or a matter of seconds, but Ian saw images in slow motion that would haunt him forever. Just at the very bottom of his eyeline he saw a gush of blood rushing onto the shiny, tiled floor as if the man had suddenly started shitting blood. His eyes widened and bulged and Ian saw bumps appear on his forehead as if someone was pushing their hand outwards from inside the man's skull. Then the crack appeared down his nose, his mouth widened in pain and a couple of teeth fell out. The veins in his neck looked ready to burst out of his skin. And then they did.
  Ian felt a spray of warm liquid on his face, along with some sharp fragments and lumps of meat, as the man literally exploded in front of him.
  Lucy screamed. The vibration had stopped. Ian fell down to sit on the floor, shocked and with a hand still clutching him despite it now being separated from a body that lay in pieces around him.
  He thought 'that shoe shop is going to have to give their window a bloody good clean' and then, as un-manly as it was, he fainted.
  Ian didn't know how it felt for other people but the moment of his fainting was both surprisingly unpleasant and surprisingly short. The sensation was like a mixture of vertigo, nausea and extreme exhaustion. Yet even as he felt himself tipping backwards and as his eyes closed he knew that he was already clambering back towards consciousness. The very slight bump as his head connected with the floor actually served to bring him all the way back.
  He opened his eyes to see Lucy standing over him, her face alabaster white and tears running down her cheeks.
  Ian mustered the thinnest of smiles. 'I'm okay.'
  'Ian,' Lucy looked at the mess all around them, 'what the fuck?'
  Ian was thinking exactly the same thing.

Devil (2010)

So the devil wants to torture souls and take the worse humans back down to hell, which means staying in a broken elevator with a group and picking them all off one by one. Of course.

Based on a story by M. Night Shyamalan (as part one of the proposed Night Chronicles trilogy detailing supernatural events within a modern day setting), Devil isn't a great movie but it's a slight return to form for the imaginative storyteller.

Having said that, let's not be unfair and forget that this was actually directed by someone else, John Erick Dowdle (who previously handled The Poughkeepsie Tapes and Quarantine), and that the screenplay was developed from Shyamalan's story by Brian Nelson, who previously scripted David Slade's two best movies (to date).

Everyone involved here does a decent job, the cast all play things with serious faces even as things get ever more unbelievable (Chris Messina is a solid lead as the investigating detective and from those stuck in the lift I must mention Geoffrey Arend, who I always enjoy seeing on screen), but it's not too long before the inherent absurdity and minimalism of the central concept begins to undo things.

Inevitably, tension winds down as opposed to up with the decreasing number of suspects who could allegedly be the lord of darkness. It's also a bit of a stretch to see how characters end up linking the, admittedly spooky, events to the legend of the devil coming up to our level to claim people due to get uncomfortably hot in the fiery dwellings down below.

It's not a bad little supernatural thriller but it never really turns into anything great or unmissable. Ironically, as it's also part of the concept, it can never really break free of it's self-imposed confines. Still, I have not been deterred from seeing the next instalments in the series.


What to do, what to do.

I'm at a loss, as I have been so many times before. Flickfeast is down and out for the time being and I have time on my hands and my hands on a keyboard. I also have a head full of frustrations so Facebook isn't really the place to be putting down a lot of tourettes style fuck shit pissing wankers whereas here may very well just let me do that.
What a day, what a day. So many things just popping into my head. How much I miss just being able to pop on to a website that houses all of my movie reviews (do I start placing a number of them here? Is that a good idea? I doubt it, one little blog could never get so much traffic and great work invested by such a good team). How much I miss finding new stuff that I love - sitting around and feeling a bit down this evening I also realised that my tastes are the same ones defined by the time I had reached about 18 years old. My musical tastes - Stones, Beatles, The Doors, Creedence, Nirvana, Led Zep, G 'n' R, etc, my movie tastes - anything horror still remains my preference, my comic tastes - will anyone ever come along to take over where the great Bill Hicks left off?
So it sucks. But what sucks more is knowing that there's more in my head stuck almost 20 years in the past. Fuck me, I still have story ideas gestating that I remember starting to work on when I was a late teen. You'd think that after a wealth of life experiences and misadventures these things would be usurped by newer sensations but nooooooooooooooo. The creative cycle or just immaturity? I will just have to find out whenever the wheels start turning.